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Month: February 2019

How To Save On Legal Fees Without Compromising On Quality

Posted on February 9, 2019 in Uncategorized

Everyone would like to cut expenses, but for many couples going through a divorce, they just keep piling up, especially legal fees. Surprisingly, the experienced attorney with the higher hourly rate may not be the most expensive. When you hire an experienced divorce attorney, he or she will be able to identify the critical issues in your case, set reasonable expectations for the eventual outcome, have the skills to represent you in court, and be able to guide you on where to invest your legal dollars. He or she will have a large database of documents drafted in similar cases to draw upon and customize to fit your needs, saving you time and money. These advantages will likely to save you money over a less experienced attorney.

So where can you find some savings without sacrificing quality?

Since a client is billed based on the time a lawyer spends on their case, anything the client does to cut down on that time will save money. With that in mind, here are some suggestions on how you can reduce lawyer time spent on your case and save on your legal fees:

1. Most people hiring a divorce attorney will be asked to provide their lawyer with copies of their complete financial history, sometimes going back several years. This typically includes copies of all bank records, tax returns, brokerage records, deeds, titles, etc. This can be a very large task, but it is a great way for clients to cut costs by doing the organizing work themselves.

For instance, Client #1, who comes in with a grocery bag full of unsorted papers in response to this request. That client will be paying for the time it takes for an associate or paralegal to sort through and organize those documents, and then have them copied or scanned. If pages are missing, Client #1 may have to pay for the firm to get copies directly from banks and other institutions to fill in missing information. This exercise will take hours of legal work and cost hundreds of poorly spent dollars for Client #1.

Now compare Client #1 to Client #2, who carefully assembles her documents and has them scanned onto a storage device or provides us with neatly indexed and organized binders containing all of the documents requested in chronological order, including both a copy for our firm and one for the opposing counsel. This makes it easy for the lawyer to look over the documents, identify any issues, and then serve the documents on the other attorney. Most importantly, this saves hours of legal work for the attorney and staff. Client #2’s efforts can save her hundreds of dollars, and she earns the gratitude of her lawyer and her staff as a bonus!

2. I long ago lost count of the number of times a client has told me that their future ex-spouse has refused to discuss and issue and told them to have her lawyer take it up with his lawyer. That should never be the approach for dealing with day-to-day issues, which ideally should not involve the lawyers. It is almost always a waste of your money to have your attorney take the time to address minor matters that have no enduring benefit to you or your case. Since saving money is likely a common goal you share with your future ex-spouse, I encourage my clients to try to find a method to handle these issues outside of involving the attorney.

What if your ex will not cooperate? Try to stay focused on the benefits and the costs when deciding whether to ask your lawyer to intervene. For instance, if the issue involves a needed repair in the home, and the cost is $300, should you involve your lawyer, who will involve your spouse’s lawyer, at a likely combined expense that is greater then the cost of the needed repair? Some clients will want to do just that, perhaps in the hope that doing it once will encourage the intransigent spouse to cooperate next time, while others will prefer to make the repair and ask for a credit or offset later. Do what is best for you, but don’t lose sight of the costs and ultimate benefit. The fact is it is never wise to spend hundreds of dollars on an issue with little end reward. Spend your money where it counts.

3. Meeting deadlines is another area where money can be saved. Each missed deadline will have a consequence, from minor to major, and a corresponding expense. While missing some deadlines may be unavoidable, others can be avoided, as can the corresponding expense.

Make no mistake that the client who routinely needs reminders of deadlines, or who needs to be prodded to bring in requested documents, will pay more in legal fees. These delays may require the attorney to take the time to call the client, send out reminder letters, and arrange for extensions of time with the court or opposing counsel. The expenses may be more significant where the client’s failure to meet deadlines despite repeated warnings from the court and lawyers, leading to costly court motions with significant legal consequences.

These legal fees can be saved just by meeting deadlines. As a bonus, your attorney will appreciate having a cooperative client who is on top of their case.

4. During your divorce you may have complaints about the behavior of your future ex, his lawyer, the courts, and the system. Your complaints may be valid, but they will have no legal or practical solution short of bringing your case to its conclusion and getting you divorced. Avoid calling your lawyer when these issues come up unless you want to pay for her to just listen to the complaint. Call someone who will not charge you for the time it takes to hear your complaint!

There are undoubtedly many ways to save money on legal fees that are not included here. As a rule, anything you can do to minimize the time spent on your case by your lawyer will save you money. Your lawyer should be able to identify areas where you can save without sacrificing the quality of services provided. If he or she does have other suggestions on how you can save money, please post them here as a comment and share them with our readers. The advice will be much appreciated!

The Yin of Legal Resume Writing

Posted on February 5, 2019 in Uncategorized

While it is usually easier for job seekers to focus on what to do “right” on their resume, many tend to forget what they may be doing “wrong” with their resume. When we put on blinders about potential faults in our resumes, we can miss critical errors that make the difference between getting an interview and getting the heave-ho. In an earlier article, we discussed the yang, or must-do elements, to create an effective legal resume (See: “The Yang Of Legal Resume Writing”). Here we will be focusing on the yin of resume writing, or what not to do, when drafting a legal resume.

Do Not Mislead Or Lie On Your Legal Resume

That may seem like an obvious no-no, but you might be surprised to find out how many applicants stretch the truth or simply lie or their resume. The most common offense usually involves some type of misrepresentation or misleading statement concerning degrees, grades, class standing, academic honors, participation on scholarly publications, work history or relevant work experience. While misleading statements can sometimes be unintentional, they can nevertheless lead to serious consequences.

Today, employers have access to a number of tools to verify resume information through both formal and informal channels. Although employers may be receiving a large number of resumes, they typically conduct some form of due diligence on those they have selected to interview. Therefore, avoid making factual misrepresentations of any kind on your legal resume. You should always aim to represent your qualifications, skills, experience, and interests fully and accurately.

Do Not Include Race, Religion, Sex, Age, Or Marital Status

You should never state race, religion, sex, age, marital status, or other personal data that have no relevance to your employment qualifications on your legal resume. Doing so could suggest you are unaware of, or are insensitive to, laws prohibiting discrimination. If your legal resume contains personal information unrelated to your job target, you might also fall victim to discrimination, even if you’re qualified for the position.

There are a couple of exceptions to this rule. Some federal or state jobs may require this information, in which case you should only include the information specifically requested. Another exception to this rule is if you are sending your legal resume abroad. Sometimes including age, marital status, race, and/or religion is acceptable if the resume is being sent outside of the United States. In that case, you should check with local recruiters as to what is proper to include in the legal resume.

Do Not Use Small Unreadable Fonts Or More than Two Pages

Formatting your legal resume properly is almost as important as the information it contains. If you present an employer with a dense, hard to read document requiring a magnifying glass, you may find that your legal resume will not be getting the attention it deserves, even if its content is outstanding. Instead, use a font the employer can read easily, such as a 12-point font with variable spacing such as Times New Roman or Arial. While you may have to compromise on font size and style to keep your resume to two pages or less, try not to go below a 10-point font on the major sections of your resume.

While your legal resume should be easy to read, it should also be quick to review. Therefore, you should try to limit your legal resume to one page. If you have ten or more years of experience, a two-page resume is perfectly acceptable. If you have a great deal of experience, and would like to highlight your transactional or litigation experience, or list publications and presentations, consider using an addendum. Experiment with different fonts to select one that pleases you, fits the page, and is easy to read.

Do Not Include Irrelevant Or Unnecessary Information

Your resume is a marketing tool designed to land you an interview. It is not a biography. Because the modern resume is a marketing tool, it’s best to keep personal interests, hobbies, and other non-essential materials for the interview process as a way to “break the ice.” If you are keen on listing organizations, affiliations, volunteer work, or extracurricular activities on your legal resume, only list those that are relevant to your practice as a legal professional, or that are directly related to your targeted job. Again, if it’s not related to your practice or the position, do not include it.

Including “References Available Upon Request” on your legal resume is a waste of space and states the obvious. Employers are assuming that you can provide references upon request, so don’t waste precious resume space on something that’s unnecessary. By the same token, there is no need to include computer or technical proficiency (such as Lexis or Word Perfect), unless it is of specific interest to a potential employer. If those skills are not specifically listed in the position description as a requirement, do not include them. Finally, do not include professional skills or work experience that are irrelevant to the type of job you seek or you no longer wish to use (e.g., woodworking).

Listing another language may be appropriate if it adds to your qualifications for the job. In certain cases, knowing a second language is a plus and should be included on your legal resume. When including language proficiency, you may state whether you are “fluent”, “proficient”, or “conversational.” Do not claim language skills unless you can carry out a basic conversation.